Various religions have claimed examples of levitation amongst their followers. This is generally used either as a demonstration of the validity or power of the religion, or as evidence of the holiness or adherence to the religion of the particular levitator.
Francis of Assisi (c. 1182 – 1226), founder of the Franciscan Order, is recorded as having been "suspended above the earth, often to a height of three, and often to a height of four cubits". This is about 1.3 to 1.8 m (4 ft 3 in – 5 ft 11 in).
Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582), a Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, claimed to have levitated at a height of about a 1.5 feet (0.46 m) for an extended period somewhat less than an hour, in a state of mystical rapture. She called the experience a "spiritual visitation".
Joseph of Cupertino (1603–1663), a Franciscan Friar, reportedly levitated high in the air, for extended periods of more than an hour, on many occasions.
Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787), when preaching at Foggia, was purportedly lifted before the eyes of the whole congregation several feet from the ground.: 13
Girolamo Savonarola, sentenced to death, allegedly rose off the floor of his cell into midair and remained there for some time.
Seraphim of Sarov (1759–1833), Russian Orthodox saint, allegedly had a gift to levitate over the ground for some time, witnessed by many educated people of his time, including the emperor Alexander I of Russia.
Simon Magus is recorded in the Acts of Peter as levitating above the Forum in Rome in order to prove himself to be a god. The apostle Peter intervenes, causing Magus to drop from the sky, breaking his legs "in three parts".
Clara Germana Cele, a young South African girl, in 1906 reportedly levitated in a rigid position. The effect was apparently only reversed by the application of Holy water, leading to belief that it was caused by demonic possession.: 328
Margaret Rule, a young Boston girl in the 1690s who was believed to be harassed by evil forces shortly after the Salem Witchcraft Trials, reportedly levitated from her bed in the presence of a number of witnesses.
In Hinduism, it is believed that some Hindu mystics and gurus who have achieved certain spiritual powers (called siddhis) are able to levitate. In Sanskrit, the power of levitation is called laghiman ('lightness') or dardura-siddhi (the 'frog power').Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi has accounts of Hindu Yogis who levitated in the course of their meditation.
Yogi Subbayah Pullavar was reported to have levitated into the air for four minutes in front of a crowd of 150 witnesses on June 6, 1936. He was seen suspended horizontally several feet above the ground, in a trance, lightly resting his hand on top of a cloth-covered stick. Pullavar's arms and legs could not be bent from their locked position once on the ground. The illusion was created by a simple method in which the person seen to levitate is supported by a cantilevered platform held up by an iron rod camouflaged in some way.
Levitation by mediums
Colin Evans, who claimed spirits levitated him into the air, was exposed as a fraud.
Stanisława Tomczyk (left) and the magician William Marriott (right) who duplicated by natural means her trick of a glass beaker.
Many mediums have claimed to have levitated during séances, especially in the 19th century in Britain and America. Many have been shown to be frauds, using wires and stage magic tricks.Daniel Dunglas Home, a prolific and well-documented levitator of himself and other objects, was said by spiritualists to levitate outside a window. Skeptics have disputed such claims. The researchers Joseph McCabe and Trevor H. Hall exposed the "levitation" of Home as nothing more than him moving across a connecting ledge between two iron balconies.
"Joseph F. Rinn and Warner C. Pyne, clad in black coveralls, had crawled into the dining room of Columbia professor Herbert G. Lord's house while a Palladino seance was in progress. Positioning themselves under the table, they saw the medium's foot strike a table leg to produce raps. As the table tilted to the right, due to pressure of her right hand on the surface, they saw her put her left foot under the left table leg. Pressing down on the tabletop with her left hand and up with her left foot under the table leg to form a clamp, she lifted her foot and "levitated" the table from the floor."
A person photographed while bouncing may appear to be levitating. This optical illusion is used by religious groups and by spiritualist mediums, claiming that their meditation techniques allow them to levitate in the air. Usually telltale signs can be found in the photography indicating that the subject was in the act of bouncing, like blurry body parts, a flailing scarf, hair being suspended in the air, etc.
^Smith, F. B. (1 January 1986). "Review of The Enigma of Daniel Home: Medium or Fraud?; The Spiritualists: The Passion for the Occult in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries; The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850–1914". Victorian Studies. 29 (4): 613–614. JSTOR3828547.